This is a guest submission by Matt from 1YearSabbatical.com
At work we always joke about winning the lottery. It’s a dream that many people fantasize about. We equate money with success, security and the freedom to do whatever it is we desire.
But most of us will never win the lottery. And so we work and toil at jobs that may or may not offer us satisfaction hoping that at some point in the future we’ll have enough saved up to do all the things we dream about doing. This is my story.
I’m A Grinder
I’m currently a grinder. I work 8-5 Monday thru Friday. It hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing. It’s afforded us a great lifestyle complete with many of the luxuries we’ve always dreamed of. We’re not rich by any means but like most people in the Western world we’re in the top 5% of world earners.
Many would be envious of where we are and what we have done to create this life. We have health insurance, two cars, cable TV, high speed Internet, clean drinking water and flush toilets. The kids have more toys than they know what to do with. We are also very fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful areas of the country.
In 2001 I married my wife in her home country of Indonesia. We’ve been married for 10 years now and have two kids. The responsibility of marriage and kids kept me chained to the grind. I had a family to support now and I couldn’t risk losing that security.
But as years went by, the grind began to take its toll and I became a very different person. I felt like there had to be something more to life. Sitting in this cubicle day after day couldn’t be as good as it gets.
When you don’t feel your mojo at work, it’s easy to feel trapped. And that is how I’ve felt for quite some time. I feel robotic and bored at work like I’m just a cog in the corporate wheel, just another body on the assembly line. I don’t feel like I’m making a difference in the world.
I don’t feel I’m living life on my own terms.
Get Busy Living or Get Busy Dying
I’ve been thinking about ending the grind for quite some time, but the fear of not having that perceived security kept me chained to my desk.
I got depressed, felt sorry for myself and then got angry. I changed into a person I didn’t like. I snapped at the wife and kids, I was angry and bitter at the world, and I blamed everyone but myself for the life I was living. I had hit the wall and knew that something had to change.
I couldn’t continue down this same path any longer.
The turning point came when a friend told me to read “The 4 Hour Workweek”, that infamous book that every lifestyle design guru on the web cheers about. I didn’t think too much of the book as a whole, but what it did do was open up my eyes to the possibilities.
For once I could see that there were options out there that I hadn’t even considered. I could actually live my life the way I wanted to. I was looking at the world with new eyes. It was time to get busy living.
The Escape Plan
It’s been 5 years since we’ve been back to Indonesia. We had struggled to get out from under a tsunami of debt and the expense of an international trip was just out of the question. But the more we thought about it, the more we realized that going back may be just what we needed.
We put together a plan to take a year long break and live in Indonesia, which resulted in the birth of our site 1 Year Sabbatical. The idea is to take a year where we can concentrate on ourselves without the distractions of a job and the grind that goes along with it.
We can spend more time with family, develop a healthier lifestyle, experience a new culture and even develop our own business ideas with the goal of being self-employed or as I prefer to call it “Living Your Passion”. And since the cost of living in Indonesia is much less than the US we can stretch our dollars even further.
So I did some research and wrote up a sabbatical proposal and presented it to my boss. I asked for a year off to live overseas. She was all for it but corporate HR had policies in place that had strict guidelines for time off, namely that the most I could take was 4 months.
Now we had a big decision to make; take the 4 months or go for the full year. On the advice of friends, we decided to take the 4 months and look at it as a trial period. And then if it looks and feels good we’ll stay and continue building our lives the way we want.
If we’re not feeling it, we’ll still have a life to come back to and we’ll figure out a new path. Taking a sabbatical affords us the opportunity to try a new lifestyle and accomplish goals that we probably would not be able to do otherwise.
Life Begins At The End Of Your Comfort Zone
So right now we’re planning to leave for Indonesia in October. It’s been a scary proposition but I’ve heard it said before that life begins at the end of your comfort zone. We’re definitely pushing that; taking more risks than we usually do. I’m scared to death about the move but for once in my life I’m also excited about the opportunities that are in front of us.
This isn’t a vacation. This is a life building opportunity.
We’re selling just about everything we have and using the money to fund our adventure. My wife has plans to start a bakery, something she’s always dreamed about. I plan to further develop my photography business and a few other online opportunities that I haven’t had the time for.
’ll be homeschooling our kids and just living life on our own terms. We’re anxious and excited at the same time. We have no idea what will happen or how we will make it all work, we only know that we have to try. What good is a dream if you never run toward it?
I’m Matt Koenig and I’m a photographer and network analyst preparing to embark on a sabbatical to Indonesia with my wife and 2 young sons. You can read about and follow our journey at 1 Year Sabbatical where you can also get tips on pursuing your own sabbatical adventure.